Monday, November 12, 2012

Twitter for Teachers /parents ~ Wonderopolis

I am constantly swinging from my awe at all the internet brings us and my horror at our collective obsession with screens.  As the first generation of parents to really contend with mobile devices, we are left to use some knee-jerk judgement that often expresses itself, in my house, as total capriciousness.  I am really looking forward to the spring P4P event on "digital kids, digital families" as a space to ponder more deliberately and with you all!

I have a thing for twitter, despite the way it fragments my brain, because it provides such a deluge of interesting links and information.  Somehow I wandered onto the #1stchat which allows first grade teachers everywhere to gather once a week and share ideas.  One of the most popular apps/websites mentioned was Wonderopolis and it really is super-cool, even for adults.  Featuring a new "wonder" everyday, it provides a nudge for non-fiction reading and provides excellent content - noncommercial, as far as I can tell (screen shot of some wonders, below) -- would love to know others' favorite apps/sites for kids -- use comments!

Also on twitter, #kidlit where great books and literacy ideas are shared, #edchat where general education policy is discussed, #plpnetwork for conversations about digital learning,  and #meschools for issues relating to Maine education policy / opportunity  (you do not need a twitter account to read these threads, just to post). 

For general thinking about media and education, KQED's Mindshift Blog is excellent and provocative and Commonsense Media is good for some grounding.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Article Round-Up

People have sent me some lovely reading / links for the blog over the past week or 2... here's a collection:

and finally, Maine's own Zoe Weil on "Educating for Freedom

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A VLOG (video blog) that desribes sexuality diversity

If you missed Jennifer Bryan's talk, this 3min take on sexuality and gender diversity provides the basic context :

For more in-depth information about sex diversity, check out the resources on the now defunct Intersex Society of North America site - the 12min online video is particularly poignant and useful.

This TED TALK by Alice Dreger  (Is Anatomy Destiny) opens up a bigger conversation about what it means to maintain or deconstruct sex categories, knowing that they are not actually fully inclusive, descriptive, or "real" but that they do serve social, political and personal purposes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Post-Jennifer Bryan

Jennifer Bryan's workshop and public talk on gender and sexuality diversity raised so many questions  and provided a strong and clear mandate to adults that if we want our children to have the fullest possible humanity and to include all children in our schools and communities we must become more educated about our potential differences.  Bryan used modifications of Kinsey's spectrum of sexuality development to offer a schema that helps us understand that individual sex, gender and sexuality potentially changes over time and place and involves an infinite number of ways of being, not just 2.  Sharing interviews with kids, in the evening program, Bryan asked us to be more empathetic to the hurts that come with being forced into a sex/gender binary system and then to be more thoughtful about the stereotypes that describe each type.

Some follow up links :

Jennifer's web site is here --  many reported wishing for more time with her; perhaps a school district could organize a whole-day training?

If nothing else, we should all pledge not to buy into the horror of super-sexy halloween costumes!

ABC did a story on the gendering of costumes / of kids in the choosing of costumes


"Feminist Frequency" examines the ways that legos' markets gender norms and sexism; Lyn Michel Brown's book "Packaging Girlhood" provides even more data on this and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women offers a lot of strategies for resistance including a Halloween tip sheet! 

Maine's Trans Youth Equality Foundation offers resources for families and supporters of kids whose gender expression doesn't "match" their assigned sex. Equality Maine offers political support and resources for safe schools.

Boys to Men offers trainings for schools interested in addressing gender stereotypes and the ways that they can support violence, and also support for parents wanting to help boys build a masculinity not centered on "Battle" (the biggest word in the "boy toy" word cloud).


In Portland Saturday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

The topic of technology and kids lives is a big one, and we had a great conversation about it last week at our middle school parents meeting.  Listening to Sherry Turkle, though, I was reminded that the topic of technology and adults is as much the story and that I should be more mindful and intentional about how I use my device.  Live-Tweeting the debate has advantages - advantages that outweigh the cons, for me -- but Live-Tweeting the x-country meet, not so much.  It is challenging to parent well about tech use, because we're almost all struggling to live well without collapsing under mountains of information and interaction or staying slightly Luddite about the whole enterprise.

We are excited to share this as the theme of our Spring (May 2012) Parenting for Peace event!  More details TBA.

In the meantime,  I thought the Fresh Air with Turkle was well worth a listen and more conversation among us!

And, as a bridge between our P4P events, check out this Common Sense Media Guide to exploring gender stereotypes online and these Hardy Girl webinars:

Beyond Media Literacy: Empowering Girls Through Media Activism
Emily Brostek, MPH, CHES
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Noon-1:30 pm Eastern Time
Register Today!

Gender and Early Childhood: The World According to Marketers
Emily Brostek, MPH, CHES
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
4-5:30 pm Eastern Time
Register Today!

Girlfighting Goes Online: Cyberbullying (and What We Can Do About It) 
Emily Brostek, MPH, CHES
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
4-5:30 pm Eastern Time
Register Today!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Telling Room Events

FSP proud to support Paul Tough! 

 Super Famous Writer Series

Every year, the Telling Room organizes a series of events aimed at introducing students and the community at large to successful, working writers. Whether held in a school auditorium as a panel discussion or in the more intimate confines of our studio space, our Super Famous Writers Series offers burgeoning authors a chance to ask questions of a few successful scribes and to imagine themselves as a literary superhero.

Fall Schedule

Paul Tough

November 7th, USM's Hannaford Hall

The prevailing wisdom has it that success in life depends on getting the best grades in the best schools. Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, offers another model, arguing that lasting achievements depend on character traits such as perseverance, self-discipline, and optimism, skills not necessarily measured on standardized tests. Join him for a lecture at USM's Hannaford Hall on November 7th at 7pm. He is the author of a series of acclaimed articles about character and childhood in the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker and a regular contributor to the public-radio program This American Life. Seating for this free event requires an RSVP. Visit to register.
Sponsored by Portland Public Schools, Breakwater School's Parent and Professional Enrichment Program, USM Department of Teacher Education, Portland Education Foundation, Longfellow Books, Friends School of Portland, Olympia Companies and Hilton Garden Portland Downtown Waterfront. 

Tom Perrotta

November 15th, Space Gallery

Tom Perrotta, author of New York Times bestsellers The Leftovers and The Abstinence Teacher, will read at SPACE Gallery on November 15th at 7pm as part of The Telling Room’s 2012 Super Famous Writer Series, a slate of literary events that showcases the working lives of talented fiction, nonfiction, and student authors. His novels Election and Little Children were both made into acclaimed movies, and Perrotta received an Academy award nomination for the screenplay of Little Children, which he wrote with director Todd Field. He's currently adapting The Leftovers into an HBO series along with Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of Lost. Perrotta has taught writing at Yale and Harvard, and published essays and reviews in Rolling Stone, GQ, and The New York Times. He also edited the 2012 edition of Best American Short Stories. Seating for this free event is first come first serve.
Presented by The Telling Room in partnership with Space Gallery, Olympia Companies and Hilton Garden Portland Downtown Waterfront.

Eric Carle - Portland Ovations

FSP families have often enjoyed meeting at these events and then sharing lunch... 

New friends and classic characters come to life with the Family Series performance, Treasured Stories by Eric Carle on Saturday, October 20th at 11 am at Merrill Auditorium. This new work by Mermaid Theatre brings together old favorites from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and new friends drawn from the pages of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and the poignant story of a young girl's unusual quest, Papa, Please get the Moon for Me for a fantastical hour-long production that will entertain and educate the next generation of theatergoers. Featuring innovative puppetry, dazzling visual effects and evocative music Treasured Stories This performance is recommended for children ages 3 to 8 and tickets are only $10. Click here to get them today.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

in the interest of children

 --  A Guide for Voters and Candidates, published by the Maine Children's Alliance is now available.

-- Today is the first International Day of the Girl :  If you're in Portland, join Hardy Girls / Healthy Women's Press Conference :  Stand with girls in Maine and around the world tomorrow at our Day of the Girl event.  Mayor Michael Brennan will join girl advocacy groups, teen girls, and supporters on Thursday at 10:00am on the steps of Portland City Hall to proclaim October 11th as Day of the Girl.

-- October 16th :  Debate moderated by Candy Crowley... it is hard to imagine wanting to watch this, but she is the first woman moderator since 1992 -- here's hoping some questions are asked about women's health, economic security, and children!

-- October 18th : Love Your Body Day

Blog neglecting

**** I apologize for neglecting the blog for a while... if any FSP parents are interested in contributing, it would be a more active and vibrant blog with more voices!  ******

Children's Theater of Maine Auditions on 10/25 - more info here!


Little Red Riding Hood (or Grandmother Slyboots)
(summer 2011)

A Seussified Christmas Carol

Thursday, October 25 from 3-5pm

We're looking for talented young actors to join the cast of our holiday production, A Seussified Christmas Carol. No experience is required, and newcomers are welcome! Please arrive between 3pm and 5pm with a one-minute monologue prepared.

Subscribe to our email list to receive the audition notice, which will contain a tentative rehearsal calendar, detailed audition information and tips for a great audition.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Maine Senate Candidate Debate on October 4th

Several organizations are coming together to sponsor a Senate Candidates Debate on October 4th, with a focus on issues especially effecting women and girls... More info and RSVP link here!

And, on October 16th, Candy Crowly will serve as the first woman to moderate a Presidential debate in the past 20 years!  This came about because of some activism of HS girls... inspiring when I think about what our kids might make happen! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Be Here Now...

This is the kind of conversation we'd love to sponsor with FSP's spring P4P series :

"Where is there a meeting point between being connected, and being well?"  (from DML Research Hub)

The Presence Project
Be Here Now Box:  "In a time of continuous partial focus, the attention–and intentions–of millions of young people who will be shaping tomorrow’s world deserves addressing. We’ve created this tacklebox-like toolkit to help families reconnect around their passion projects:"


"This project is all about inviting families to find alternate ways of interacting in a time when all of us are very apt to jump on our computers or our
phones during shared family time..."
Their web site offers some wonderful prompts and resources...

Also : Geek Dad's take

And where I learned about it : the DML Research Hub blog post / video 

What items would you add to your own Be Here Now box? Share your
thoughts with others by:
(1) Leaving a comment on the blog post at, or
(2) Adding a comment to DML Facebook Page at

Monday, September 17, 2012

Books as Bridges / Silent Racism

The Bangor Daily News recently posted a brief story about Maine's legacy as the "whitest state" and the experience that people of color have as "the only" in primarily white spaces.  This story - and the comments and blog posts that followed - made me think about our program last fall on kids, race and racism and the challenges of teaching anti-racism at FSP.   The cycle of inquiry, reflection, action is at the heart of FSP's educational philosophy and so important for our shared queries about what justice looks like, how we create racial amity and equity, how we honor individual differences and create strong communities, and how we challenge our own inner-voice by hearing the truths' of others in a setting that encourages divergent thinking and dissent as well as harmony and unity.

While within larger society there is a pull toward emphasizing stereotypes about racial difference or naturalizing patterns that we name "racism", there can also be a push toward asking people to assimilate to the extreme, to refuse to "see" difference as a way of maintaining dominant norms.  The sweet spot of dynamic inclusion is easy to wish for, harder to always know how to practice.

Check out the resources from our Books as Bridges event here (scroll down) and the latest work being done by Anne Sibley O'Brien and Kirsten Cappy on the I'm Your Neighbor project (many book recs available!)

"Silent Racism"  documents the ways that well intentioned white people ignore the manifestations of institutional racism or shy away from racial awareness because of worrying about saying the wrong thing.  Author Barbara Trepagnier invites us to learn how to recognize and interrupt racism in interpersonal interactions and acknowledge and work on structural changes...

Fear of a Black President, an Atlantic Magazine op-ed, analyzes President Obama's challenge of maintaining a non-white racial identity while inhabiting the role of President which has been coded "White" until now.  Again, an interesting and provocative read on how race shapes our 21st C. lives.  Also from the Atlantic, an analysis of diversity - or there lack of - in young adult books.  And yet, if nothing else, there are great chances to enrich our lives and empathy and experience through books...

banana bread

Many 3rd/4th grade families enjoyed a gorgeous fall afternoon at Audubon yesterday... I was asked for my banana bread recipe... it was from this month's Cooking Light and I fiddled much less than usual, but did substitute White Whole Wheat Flour and used olive oil 'cause it was all I had.  I also skipped the glaze...

Photo: Hannah Whitaker; Styling: Tizana Agnello

Friday, September 14, 2012

Making Stuff Happen at FSP

An awesome parents organizing lunch yielded a conversation about how things happen at FSP.  In past parent meetings it was decided that there would not be a strong governing parent group, but rather a group of facilitators, or point parents, who could assist with communication and community building.  That means that the work of doing things to support our kids, our classrooms, our community and FSP as an institution is on all of us... if you've got a great idea or are wanting to get a ball rolling, here are some suggestions...

If you have an idea for an after school activity.... talk to Billy

If you have an idea for development / fundraising... talk to Rob, Jenny or John

If you have an idea for a class get-together... talk to your point-parent or just throw it out to the group

If you have an idea for a whole-school event... talk to your point-parent, Kim or Stacie, Jen or Jenny... big ideas usually cycle through to the administrative team and are checked against the school calendar and require that the initiator have some ummph for enacting the event.

If you have an idea for an item to be included in the ebulletin, newsletter or for admissions or media for FSP... talk to Jen

If you have an idea for an all school assembly... talk to Lee, Jonathan, Christina or  Pete

If you have an idea for a field trip, an awesome addition to the classroom, etc. ... talk to your teacher

In the past, parents have initiated a holiday "hat sale",  a kids craft making party, a Matt Loosigian concert, Stories by the Garden, the Parenting for Peace lecture series, Contra Dancing at the potluck (or perhaps that idea came from a teacher), the blog (and it wasn't me :), the summer program, food for teachers at the end of the year, parent forums, Wolfe's Neck trip on October in-service day, Tea Parties on the Cricket sidelines, parent-kid soccer tournaments, X-Country Team, Close Buy... Within classrooms, parents have done so much more... so if you have an idea and a little organizing ummph please feel hugely invited to make it happen! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Outing Club

The meeting for Outing Club takes place in Nicole's room after school today... OC has been a highlight for many FSP families... come check it out!

Primary fall projects include putting on the Harvest Dinner -- a local-food-fest that raises $ for OC and is really fun... ticket info to come!

Here's a little info about the upcoming rescheduled Rangeley Camping Trip -- it was rained out in the spring, but we're hoping for a beautiful (and mosquito free) fall weekend!

Here's a repeat of the original post, with some updates :

Outing Club takes our first trip of the year September 29-30, to Rangeley State Park.  On Saturday, we'll meet (optional) for an easier hike to Angel Falls (meet at 1pm).   On Sunday, we'll climb Saddleback.  

Sign-up for OC w/Nicole and sign-up for hike / activities on EventBrite!  

If the going gets too rough, here's Maine Magazine's ideas for 48 hours in Rangeley

It is a pretty long drive... for treats, consider Forage in Lewiston for morning bagels, or the Bread Shack in Auburn for fabulous sandwiches; Nezinscot Farm in Turner for veggies and tea...

Any tips for ice cream on the route back?

Monday, September 10, 2012

After School

FSP's after school programs are awesome but sometimes there is a need to leave the island... The Telling Room just posted their fall workshops... none work for my family, but I sure wish they did - and they are free / by donation!

Also, several of us are coming together for a Portland Pottery class on Wednesdays... if your child might be interested in joining in, send Kim an email.

Anyone else find a gem to share?

Friday, September 7, 2012

This is newsworthy for kids - literally!

Check out this online resource Scholastic News Kids Press Corps!  It is current events and news reporting from a team of about 50 Kid Reporters from around the nation - "...reporting for kids, by kids."  Limiting violence and advertising and from a child's perspective - nice!  Check out the information/application on becoming a Kid Reporter too!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It Starts With You Training @ USM

The Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity is partnering with GLSEN Southern Maine (the local chapter of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) to present an "It Starts with You" training:

Saturday, Sept. 8
USM/Payson Smith Hall, Room 1 (basement)


The "It Starts with You" Conversation program encourages personal one-on-one conversations between supporters and the people they know -- our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, fellow congregants etc. 

It helps us identify people in our lives with whom we'd like to talk about marriage for same-sex couples, identify why this is sometimes hard and practice with others, and make a plan to engage them in friendly discussion about love and commitment, marriage and family, and how access to marriage  for same-sex couples impacts us and our community.

More than 80% of Mainer voters know someone who is LGBT or a supporter of marriage for same-sex couples, but less than half of those voters have had a conversation about marriage with a supporter.  Voters who have these conversations are TWICE as likely to vote with us! -- so it's a powerful way that supporters can help, just by reaching out in their daily lives.

This program gives people the tools to open peaceful, respectful  conversations that encourage sharing, not debate, and that deepen our understanding of each other.

The video below features formal campaign activities rather than the ordinary personal conversations our training will help us to have with people we know.  But it shows why every conversation matters.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Curious how others are managing all the lunch-packing?

Are you PB&J every day or do you create amazing bento-boxes?  Do your kids actually eat lunch or show up ravenous in the car wondering if "snack" was remembered?

I know there are amazing cooks among us - what are your favorite lunches, lunch resources, blogs, etc?

Perhaps a free lunch for someone who comments?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Improv & Portland Playback

David LeGraffe has taught after school improv @ FSP for a while now, and his Wed night adult classes are equally awesome -- a new term starts soon - email him for more info!

We are also exploring collaborations with Portland Playback and all are invited to attend this coming Friday night:

September 7 -- First Friday in September 2012           
7:30 P.M.  
$7 suggested donation  

This  Event's Actors: Bob Bittenbender, Erin Curren, Sandra Sneiderman, Colin O'Leary, Andy Colvin; Conductor: David LaGraffe

Stories of Letting Go

I think I was sixteen when I first went water skiing. I was zipping along when I lost my balance and instinctively HELD ON instead of letting go. Ouch...ouch...ouch
It strikes me now that my inability to let go has dogged me all my life. Do you have a story of letting go, or holding on?
   Bring your story of letting go or holding on and let our company of actor/improvisors ennact it for you. Or just come to watch and enjoy this unique community event in which the stories of our lives are honored through theatre. Bring a friend! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lady Gaga & Suffrage

Sunday is the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendement - women's suffrage - in the United States.  SOOMO publishing offers a parody video of "Bad Romance" to introduce the idea to kids... their web page offers teaching tools once they get curious:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Join Rob, Sarah & Cedar on their home stretch Tues, 8/21!

Three People, Five Wheels, One Blankie
2012 Family Bicycle Journey through Maine, Atlantic Canada, and Quebec

 Hi Everyone!

We're having a wonderful re-entry into Maine this week after a sweet border crossing from Quebec.  Details and pictures, as always, are at

We've made it as far as Readfield, Maine, with stops planned in Litchfield Sunday, Pownal on Monday, and home on Tuesday afternoon, 8/21/12!   Cedar will be rejoining us for the end of the trip, after a fun stay with Sarah's parents and step-mom this past week.

It has felt as though you have been along with us in spirit for the entire ride, and we would love to honor your presence by inviting you to ride with us for all or part of the last day of the trip on Tuesday.  (We made the same offer for our ride out of Portland on May 1, but strangely, no one took us up on this idea.  Maybe the rain and mid-40's temps had something to do with that! :) Or, you could just meet up with us near the end, for an Ice Cream Social at Beal's Ice Cream at Veranda Street in Portland, where we'll be from about 4:30 to 6 p.m.  (If it's raining - bring an umbrella!  We can always retire to the nearby Thai noodle place if the rain is really bad.) 

Here's our itinerary for the afternoon:  Leaving Bradbury Mountain main parking lot at 1, after lunch.  Slowly working our way south on Rte 9 and then local roads, with various stops (playground, bathrooms, etc).  We'll definitely stop at the new playground behind the Falmouth Elementary School off Woodville Road, probably some time around 3:00 to 3:30.  Aiming to arrive at Beals around 4:15 or 4:30.  

And here's a map of the route, if you'd like to try to meet up with us on the way:,-70.247784&spn=0.075163,0.118275.

We have some family committments through the last days of the month and then will be headed back to work as planned on September 4th after the Labor Day weekend.  Much love and look forward to seeing you sometime soon either way! 

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Books, Books, Books

Last fall's Parenting for Peace program, Books As Bridges, yielded great ideas about using picture books to help kids (and adults) with perspective taking, deepen empathy, explore emotions, etc.  The range of possible books is endless... and sometimes overwhelming.  Here are a few book list sites I've come across, recently, that help me focus:

Rainbow Books : the American Library Association's selections of best LGBTQ books for kids and adults.

Amelia Bloomer : ALA's list of feminist books for kids

I'm Your Neighbor : a new list from Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, to encourage more integration and conversation among "New Mainers" and longer residing ones.  I think this has been listed before, but Cynthia Leitich  Smith's book lists are also fabulous resources for exploring new cultures through books...

Books That Heal Kids :  I've mentioned this blog before, but I'm always happy to get her recommendations about books that promote social and emotional learning.

And, an old favorite -- Katie's alma mater  Bank Street publishes monthly lists that always have great suggestions..
The Maine Book Award 2012-2013 nominees are available... older kids might choose to read a bunch and participate in the voting... past lists are also great guides to older-kid book choices.

Also for older kids, the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors... has book lists, teacher guides, etc.  and The Pirate Tree reviews books through a social justice lens.

For those of you who tweet, the #kidlit thread has tons of links and suggestions, too...

Any favorite books discovered in your houses this summer?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kids & Gender

Lindsay Morris (NYT)
On Sunday,  NYT magazine published a longish article : "What's So Bad About A Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress? on kids who defy traditional "gender boxes" and claim a middle space -- boy and girl, neither boy nor girl -- and the social challenges that come with new identities.  I thought the article was a compassionate picture of families who are trying to understand how to support kids "true selves" in a society that is largely organized as if sex/gender binaries are real, natural, important and self-evident.  The author (Ruth Padawer) did not, however, really push on those structural pieces -- how does our society create and reproduce gender categories and for what purpose? 

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create DifferenceI am currently reading Cordelia Fine's examination of neuroscience's claims of innate and natural differences between male and female brains.  Called "Delusions of Gender" she pretty quickly tears apart the idea that there is a strong biological link between sex and gender, and she debunks ideas that gender differences are inherent and all-inclusive.  That is, there are huge differences within categories (women can be as different from each other as from men) and we are never creating entirely non-sexist spaces for kids to grow up in, so we will never be able to fully entangle  nurture-from-nature.   It is a readable book and a fun one to just balance the enormous amount of "Men are from Mars" we consume in regular media.

Anyway, thinking about gender and kids takes us to so many places, from the unique individual experiences that kids have -- an interesting comment from the NYT piece suggested that as we become increasingly individualistic and inhabit more fragmented identities we experience more freedom but less security... curious how that resonates?  -- to questions about what kind of society we want for our children.  Maine is unique in having a law guaranteeing freedom from discrimination based on gender, not just sex, and as schools begin to comply with the law, the ways that we assume a gender binary as real will become more and more visible to us. 

If all this raises your interest -- in how to support your own child, in how to support creating a just and caring community for all kids -- come hear Jennifer Bryan on October 24th!  As part of our Parenting for Peace series, Bryan will address this topic, as it intersects with child development and with other issues relating to gender justice.   More info soon!

And, some resources:

Jennifer Bryan:  From the Dress Up Corner to the Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexual Identity Development (in NAIS magazine) 

John Peterman : When Chris Becomes Courtney : Preparing a Pre-K–8 School Community for a Transgendering Student (NAIS magazine) 

Welcoming Schools :  A resource from the Human Rights Campaign 

Trans Youth Equality Foundation (Maine)

Gender Spectrum (National) - vocabulary, definitions, advocacy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Festivities, Continued

A lovely FSP tradition is for each class to host some kind of gathering to connect families together toward the start of school... some plans are underway, and while point parents are taking the responsibility of coordinating, ALL PARENTS are hugely encouraged to put forward invitations and ideas... the more fun, the better!

  • Preschool has a pool party planned, August 19th 
  • Kindergarten has planned a picnic at Underwood Park on August 14th 
  • 1/2 is planning an Eastern Prom picnic, Aug 21st
  • 3/4 : Park Picnic, tentatively September 15 or 16
  • 5/6 :  Picnic @ Elise's House, August 29th
  • 7/8 :  A marshmallow roast and potluck supper party@Helen's, August 31st
And remember that the whole school picnic is on AUGUST 30th (3:30 - 6:30) 
Also.... Hildy has agreed to lead a yoga session, to help us ease into the transition from summer to fall... Our first Monday after drop-off, more details to come! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A cool idea for a class party...

No Impact Upcycling Week!

So much better than back-to-school shopping...
 The No Impact Project Upcycling Competition!
August 12th - August 19th
How often is your favorite piece of clothing also a great conversation starter?  If you have seen how many amazing things can be done with an old t-shirt you’ll understand why we think that upcycling is so much more fun than spending your hard earned money on new clothes.
Let’s give the earth a break this year and recycle your old clothes and products into awesome new, useful creations!   Starting Monday, August 12th and ending on Sunday, August 19th the No Impact Project will be holding a Back to School Upcycling Competition on our facebook page.
Post your favorite upcycling how-to links and pictures of your own ideas! We will select a few of the best ideas to share in our newsletter which goes out to over 30,000 fellow No Impact lovers. 

See the website for project ideas...

From Sunrise Guide

Calling All Budding Locavores!

This Saturday, August 11th, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will be hosting its 4th Annual Backyard Locavore Day from 10am-4pm to raise money for their future home at Tidewater Farm. Visit thirteen sites in Southern Maine. Enjoy demonstrations, food sampling, and backyard garden tours throughout the day. Topics include vegetable gardening, root cellaring, drying and canning foods, composting, raising chicken for eggs and meat, and more! Tickets $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, children under 12 are free. Learn more.

Parent Forums

On the first Tuesday of the month, starting in November, parents are invited to gather to discuss issues related to FSP, to child development, to our families, etc.  Forums can include invited guests/experts or can be more informal conversations among adults.

Past topics include:

-- Real Life / Real Talk : Sex Ed for Parents (from Planned Parenthood)
-- Inclusion & Exclusion at FSP
-- Music & Art at FSP
-- Simplicity and Commercialism (how to handle birthday parties & winter holidays)
-- Kids & Digital Media / Screens

And many more...

What would you like to chat about? What would get you back to school on a Tuesday night?

Use the comments to share ideas, or email your point parent (see names at right) to share suggestions!

Back to School Festivities

A lovely FSP tradition is for each class to host some kind of gathering to connect families together toward the start of school... some plans are underway, and while point parents are taking the responsibility of coordinating, ALL PARENTS are hugely encouraged to put forward invitations and ideas... the more fun, the better!

Kindergarten has planned a picnic at Underwood Park on August 14th...

1/2 is planning an Eastern Prom picnic

More details, from more classes, to come...

And remember that the whole school picnic is on AUGUST 30th (3:30 - 6:30)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NYT on Good Parenting & Kim's Commentary

I'm so bored with the meme of the "helicopter parent" -- we really all do our best and I think more support for parents in general would help create a more caring society.  But, perfectionist that I am, I can't resist checking myself against the cultural ideals of "good" parenting and pretty much find that I come up short in one way or another.  Sigh.

I'm curious if this short NYT piece by Madeline Levine (author of the Price of Privilege and a new book that's coming out now) resonates with others.  The best line, for me, is : "  ... the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy" I do think FSP should offer Mackworth Yoga for Stressed Our Parents! It does seem that managing our worry is one of the biggest developmental tasks of mid-life... preparation for "growing old ain't for sissies", I think.

Ultimately, I am still a believer in the argument put forward by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels in The Mommy Myth  -- The more the standard of good mothering is both vague/changeable and unattainable, the more we'll sink into our own nutty spin-out of strive/fail/worry/achieve/collapse and the less we'll focus on collective action for political change and social justice for all families.

Yet, according to the Casey Foundation,  a quarter of Maine kids live in houses that experience food insecurity, and almost 1/2 of all school-aged kids qualify for subsidized lunch (wonder what that means for food in summer?).  Maine's KidCount book is really worth looking through, motivation to helicopter a little more for kids everywhere - and their mothers, too.

This blog post, titled: the shame of being newly poor (or, why I canceled our plans today)
shared by "BlackGirlInMaine" provides a powerful narrative about what it feels like to be constantly short of money, while raising kids.  It is a story that I know will resonate within our FSP community, yet a story that rarely is put into public words.

And that circles back to the Levine essay.  While the reality for many Maine families is that idyllic childhoods are interrupted by the displacement of adult responsibilities onto kids themselves,  the fantasy of parenting-perfection remains and the quest to help kids make it to safety in what feels like an increasingly unsafe world is powerful - and remains highly individualistic in many ways. 

How can we break our isolation, develop communities that create safety among shared resources, build kids resilience and our own, with less judgement and less fear? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Parenting for Peace & Jennifer Bryan

The Parenting for Peace committee is in need of new members!  If you have an interest in social issues relating to kids, education, and community and/or have detail-oriented skills, please let us know!

We are thrilled to be bringing Jennifer Bryan to FSP on October 24th to present findings and resources from her book From the Dress Up Corner to the Senior Prom : Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity Pre-K to 12 Schools.

I have ordered a copy of the book for the parent library, or check out this essay for the National Association of Independent Schools which summarizes her perspective.  Also, check out this piece, which connects so well with our 2011 'Books as Bridges' program  (and consider buying a title for your home or for FSP - we will have books for sale at the 10/24 program).

I will soon post a series of links and info by way of introduction to this program... please do let us know if you want to help!

Postcard - Things You Can Do To Eradicate Gender or Multiply It Exponentially - Single

SCW©2001. Mollie Biewald, mixed media©1999.

from Syracuse Cultural Workers :

Single Postcard
Price: $1.00 .50

Package of 12
Price: $9.95 $5.98

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Art of Living

This looks like something that might be of interest to some FSP folks... 


The Art of Living Course Export to Your Calendar

When: 8/10/2012
Where: The Yoga Center
449 Forest Ave
Portland, Maine  04103
United States
Contact: Stephanie Rand (

The Art of Living Course teaches powerful stress management techniques the relieve stress and still the mind. We are teaching The Art of Living Course at The Yoga Center in Portland, Maine on Friday, August 10th from 6:30-9:30pm, Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th from 10am-5pm, and Monday, August 13th from 6:30-9:30pm. We hope you will be able to join us for this event. Please register at to reserve your space. Please select the course listed for Gloucester, MA and you will see on the registration page that that is actually the Portland, Maine event. We hope to see you there!

Bates Dance Festival

This weekend is the 30th Anniversary Celebration for the Bates Dance Festival - sure to be a delight! 

And on Aug 11th you can see Kate and Naomi in the Festival Finale -  Bates is an awesome place for a picnic first, and the finale is only $6

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Climate Action

The tag line for FSP is "Inquiry • Reflection • Action" and I these seem like guiding principals for lifelong learning for all of us!  What do we know, what does it mean to us, how can we best respond? With the withering heat and crazy rains happening across the planet, climate change is often on my mind and I find I move pretty quickly to action -- the inquiry and reflection parts can stir such panic!  Nevertheless, responsible action requires some clarity about the problem... Here are a few resources I've been drawing on:

Inquiry :  Bill McKibbon's latest piece "Reckoning"  in Rolling Stone lays out the problem and his sense of solution.  If nothing else, it should be read! 

Reflection : As I mentioned earlier, I am reading Joanna Macy's newest book "Active Hope" which could be subtitled "how to not look away."  I'm finding it useful and provocative - a friend and I are going to have a study-supper to discuss it in early September if anyone would like to join us!

Action: There is a lot going on right now.  Kate and I attended the rally at bug light park and found huge comfort in the crowd (100 people showed up!) -- the petition can be signed here.
Tar sands rally in South Portland (photo by Beth Dimond) NRCM

 Tomorrow, New England Activists will protest in front of the New England Conference of Governors' in Burlington.  And next week, Climate Riders will be in Cumberland, preparing for an August 4th action.
Team Maine will take part in the Break the Trailbreaker Pipeline action in Monument Square, Portland from 11am-2pm.  Download flyer (4mb jpg).
Meet us. Come discuss the trailbreaker pipeline’s potential impact on you and all of Maine.
Support us. Make a deadly energy tag detailing what you stand to lose if New England supports the Trailbreaker Pipeline tar sands.  Make a tag at Monument Square.  Email tag to  Mail a tag to Apt. 2, 1439 Congress St, Portland, ME.
Join us. Stand against tar sands oil as we attach our deadly energy tags to the pipeline fence.  Ride your bike with us from Monument Square at 2:00 pm to the source of the Trailbreaker Pipeline, near SMCC Campus.

Many organizations are working together on enviornmental protection in Maine, including the Sierra Club, NRCM & 350.Org -- I get the emails, and tend to do what they ask me.  I appreciate all the criticisms of "clicktivists" but still feel like something is better than nothing right now, and as is true for so many of us, motherhood both fuels and limits my participation.

In the coming year, I'm curious if FSP might get more involved with Interfaith Power and Light which brings a spiritual element to the inquiry?

And, of course, there are the questions about how to best engage kids... that will be tomorrow's post!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rob, Sarah & Cedar's bike trip

If you haven't yet indulged in a few hours of drooling over posts and photos of their incredible bike trip, indulge!

Festival of Nations, This Sunday

SUNDAY July 29,2012,
Deering Oaks Park
Portland, Maine
11:00AM – 7:00PM

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Does FSP need a tool library?

From the Center for a New American Dream :
FREE Webinar!
Starting a Tool Library

Join us on Thursday, August 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST for a FREE webinar on how to launch a community tool library.

Speakers from successful tool libraries around the country will share how they obtained funding and resources, and will answer your questions about how you can launch a tool library in your own town!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Are we doing enough to teach our children digital citizenship?

This recent link at The CyberWise Daily on a new YouTube curriculum on digital literacy prompted me back to thinking about this topic. 

While my own eight year old child still has just fledging interest in Internet content (restricted to looking at YouTube videos of model trains or Legos and watching Netflix episodes of "Flying Wild Alaska" or "World's Toughest Fixes"), my husband and I are very aware of how we are and will continue to age-appropriately teach him to be a safe, smart, and hopefully, socially active digital citizen. 

This is an arena of parenting/education that I hope we can work collaboratively on with our school's administrators and teachers, as well.  I believe that we are very fortunate to have the most conducive environment within our Quaker school in which to incorporate what is another literacy - digital literacy.  Our children learn explicitly and implicitly every day and in many ways the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship, and truth.  What better way, than with this strong set of values, to approach the expertise and creativity (and yes, the dark side) of our global community that expresses itself via the Internet? 

We have the perfect framework for this part of our children's education to work hand-in-hand with our school.  And while there certainly are dangers and inappropriate content to be found, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to use this powerful tool, just as we teach them to drive cars and say no to drugs.  It is our responsibility to give our children information (give trust) and stay in a positive relationship with them as their "soft place to fall" (receive trust), and know that these things will keep them safe and smart.

Here are a few other resources to look at, if you have not already been immersed in this yourself: 
Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum from Common Sense Media
Digital Literacy from

What are your views?
Photo credit:  Microsoft Office graphics

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rainbow Toys 20% off Thursday

Rainbow Toys is celebrating 20 years in business! To show our appreciation of your business, we are offering you 20% off storewide on Thursday, July 26th!  Please come help us celebrate this special event and enjoy savings on all of your favorite items.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tar Sands & Active Hope

As regular blog readers know -- as anyone who knows me knows - I am struggling under the mighty weight that consciousness about climate change brings.  It is easy to resist knowing and very hard to accept the likely consequences that we and our children will live with going forward because of human choices.  The sweet spot is to maintain an active stance, not to be paralyzed with despair nor overly glib or dismissive of what we know to be true.  And that stance is as hard as any yoga pose could be, for me.  I am just starting a new book by Joanna Macy on the topic - it is called Active Hope and I'd love to have an FSP parents bookclub around it!  And, we have an opportunity to come together with others -- a coalition of Maine environmental groups, including 350Maine and NRCM - to protest a specific and concrete action : the development of a pipeline for moving tar sands oil through Maine. 

Please check out the Facebook Event Page & RSVP to NRCM

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 -- 6:00pm until 7:00pm in EDT

  • Join us at the lighthouse in Bug Light Park in South Portland for a rally in opposition to pumping dirty tar sands oil thorugh Maine and in to Casco Bay! Please come dressed in all black for a "human oil spill".

    On July 25, 2012, 840,000 gallons of tar sands crude spilled in to the Kalamazoo River in Michigan devastating the environment and economy. We cannot let this happen in Maine.

    The Portland-Montreal Pipeline currently pumps conventional crude oil from tanker ships in Casco Bay north to Qubec. Now, Enbridge is considering to reverse the flow of the pipeline; to start pumping tar sands oil from Quebec to Casco Bay. A tar sands oil spill in Casco Bay would devastate Portland working waterfront.   Join us for a rally and protest against pumping tar sands through Maine! 

Ice Skating & Stories by the Garden

We are HOT and in browsing possible things to do this week found that Falmouth Family Ice is offering public skating most mornings -- I've always thought summer skating would be fun - hoping I can tempt my offspring before we attend Wednesday's Stories by the Garden with Michael Wingfield, the percussionist who wowed us all during the winter visiting artists workshops...   What else are folks doing to keep cool?

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Are Family Vacations Worth It?"

Click here for an interesting collection of viewpoints from The New York Times on the traditional family summer vacation!  Where do you fall on the opinion spectrum this summer...?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Have you got a Junior Docent living with you?

I found this great opportunity at the Maine Historical Society today quite by mistake, and it made me think of all of the awesome and precocious Friends School students who would be good at this!  It's coming up fast though, so check it out now
Monday, July 9, 09:00 am – 12:00 pm
Junior Docent Camp at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Monday, July 9 - Thursday, July 12, 9 AM-12 PM;
Friday, July 13, 9 AM-2PM

For students entering 4th through 6th grades. $75 MHS member families/$100 non-members.

Would you like to be an historian now, instead of waiting until you grow up? Do you want to know more about quill pens, horse-drawn carriages and George Washington? Does the idea of life without video games and cell phones interest you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Junior Docent Camp at MHS is for you.

Participants in Junior Docent Camp will explore life in 19th century Portland and go behind the scenes of Maine's oldest historic house museum. The camp is based at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the boyhood home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The mix of indoor and outdoor activities will include 19th century games, gardening, crafts, cooking, and poetry writing. We will learn how Henry and his siblings played, dined, studied, cleaned up, and even got into trouble!

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with librarians and museum curators, and conduct research on a topic or object of their choice. At the end of the week, all participants will be fully trained and prepared to give a tour of the house to family members and guests of their choice. After the tour, families and campers are encouraged to join us in the Longfellow Garden for a brown bag lunch and HenryĆ­s favorite treat!

For more information contact Rachel Miller, Education Assistant, at or (207) 774-1822 x214.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Middle School

MiddleWeb has updated their newsletter look - I think it is a great resource for getting interesting bits of info about educating 9 - 14 year olds... subscriptions are free.

They recently highlighted this NYT "Room for Debate" on Middle School

 I'd be curious what folks think about how FSP works as a preK - 8 environment?